Album Premiere: Ruler’s ‘Winning Star Champion’

Seattle music scene utility player Matt Batey steps into the spotlight with his new indie rock album for Barsuk Records.

Matt Batey is a familiar face in the Seattle music scene. As a professional touring musician, he’s taken turns providing lead guitar and vocal harmonies for acts like Cataldo and Rocky Votolato (often with healthy doses of humorous stage banter). He’s just a consummate glue guy that makes Seattle concerts better.

When Batey isn’t helping other musicians out, he’s working on his own music, which he records and performs as Ruler. And with Winning Star Champion—Ruler’s debut LP on Barsuk Records (out May 25)—Batey steals the spotlight. It turns out the lead role suits him just as well as all his supporting parts.

Winning Star Champion delivers the type of polished, intelligent, and catchy indie rock that’s become the Barsuk’s trademark—fitting seamlessly alongside labelmates like Nada Surf, Chris Staples, and Death Cab for Cutie. Over bright and unpretentious guitar rock tracks, Batey sings with the urgent yelp of an underdog (as the chorus of the title track goes, “I’m the winning star champion of fucking up / like a high school rebel running out of luck”). During the album’s less scrappy moments, Batey transitions into melancholy, as on “Get To You,” which reflects on an always-ending relationship. The instrumental backing is bolstered by an all-star cast of Batey’s Seattle music pals, including Michael Lerner (Telekinesis), Eric Anderson (Cataldo), and Eric Howk (Portugal. The Man).

Take an exclusive first listen to Winning Star Champion before it arrives in stores and on digital platforms this Friday.

Ruler (aka Matt Batey). Photo by Lauren Max

Ruler (aka Matt Batey). Photo by Lauren Max

More in Music

Eddie Vedder at an earlier 2018 Pearl Jam show. Photo by Raph_PH/Flickr
Pearl Jam As Rock Archivists

The Home Shows at Safeco Field weren’t about the band’s legacy, but that of the genre as a whole.

Photo by Josh Kelety
City Council Passes Temporary Historic Protection for The Showbox

With a lively crowd on hand, the Council unanimously voted to delay any demolition of the venue by 10 months.

The 10 Best Moments From SPF30

A look back at the high points of Sub Pop’s 30th anniversary blowout.

30 For (Sub Pop’s) 30

To celebrate the record label’s 30th anniversary, we attempt to pick the best song from every year of its existance.

Back to the Heart of It All

Now, Now lost its way for years, unexpectedly building a ravenous pop rock fanbase in absentia.

Capitol Hill Block Party 2018 Photo Recap

A look back at the urban music fest’s weekend action.

Alvvays brings its dreamy Canadian indie pop to the Capitol Hill Block Party Main Stage. Photo by Arden Wray
Capitol Hill Block Party 2018 Picks

Who to see at this year’s edition of Seattle’s urban music fest.

Wimps isn’t trash. Photo by Kelly O
Wimps’ Renewable Punk Energy

The Seattle trio isn’t afraid to get dirty on its new album, ‘Garbage People.’

Can Upstream Fest Be Fixed?

In it’s current form, the Pioneer Square music festival lacks energy and identity. (Plus, a photo recap of last weekend’s action.)

The sun shines on Sasquatch!.
Sasquatch! Music Festival 2018 Photo Recap

From big bands to casual hangs, we take a look back at all the action over Memorial Day weekend at The Gorge.

Curtis Harding
The Faces of Sasquatch! Music Festival 2018

Behind-the-scenes portraits with the some the fest’s best acts.

David Byrne
The Attention-Grabbers of Sasquatch! Music Festival 2018

A look back on the weekend’s musical festivities in terms of captivation.